Irish Porter Cake

Porter Cake RecipeThanks in great part to the universal success of Guinness, the history of Ireland and stout – a type of porter – is inseparable. Irish Porter Cake, best made with stout, is something of a tradition in the country. Whether it’s a cake eaten but once a year – on St. Patrick’s Day – is up for debate. But it’s certainly a valid excuse to indulge.

Irish porter cake is a moist fruit cake, best made with a dark, rich stout. Guinness will do the trick, but I opted for a particularly flavoursome double stout. The cake benefitted.

Like many of the most traditional cakes from around the British Isles – Cornish hevva cake, being another example – porter cake is exceptionally simple. Ready to bake in just 15 minutes, it is a cake that you can throw together at a moment’s notice.

That is not to say that it should be slung together and served immediately. It is generally accepted that porter cake ought to be baked and left to sit in its tin for at least 24 hours. The longer the better; time allows for flavours and richness to develop. Though it does taste good straight from the oven.

How To Make Irish Porter Cake

A word on the mixed fruit too. If frugality is your central desire, then by all means use a basic mix; things will still turn out well. But for a little extra fancy give a better quality mix a go.

I used 100g of currants, 100g of sultanas and 300g of a ‘luxury fruit mix’, comprising sultanas, raisins, cherries and cranberries. A little more expensive, but certainly worth it. Spending a smidge more is often worth it; life must be enjoyed.

For more traditional cake recipes from our fair Isles, see my Cornish Hevva Cake, Scripture Cake and Welsh Cakes…

Irish Porter Cake

Makes 1 cake (20x20cm)


  • 225g butter
  • 225g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 300ml porter or stout
  • 500g mixed fruit
  • 100g candied peel
  • a pinch of salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice, or equivalent
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten


  1. In a large pan, melt together the butter and sugar. Once liquid, tip in the stout and bring to a brisk boil. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan). Line a cake tin of 20x20cm, or equivalent.
  2. Incorporate the fruit, candied peel, salt and lemon zest. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, mix together the flour, spices and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Once cool, fold through the fruit and stout mixture. Beat in the eggs.
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared tin, level and bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until cooked through.
  5. The cake is ready once cooled a little, but it’s best served having been left to mature for up to a week.

Recipe for Irish Porter Cake Irish Porter Cake Recipe

Cost: A simple fruit cake, albeit with a glug of stout, this traditional Irish porter cake should set you back in the region of £4.

32 comments on “Irish Porter Cake

  1. odelleasmith
    March 17, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Great pics on twitter.
    Guinness in Ireland tastes better, enjoy!
    Porter Cake looks scrumptious, must make this to try, off shopping to get some stout so that I can make cake tomorrow…
    I can only imagine the mouthwatering aroma coming from the kitchen while it’s being prepared and cooked.
    Love fruit cake, especially your Scripture Cake, I’m certain that I’m going to enjoy this.
    Surprised at how easy Porter Cake is to make, can’t wait to try it!
    Thanks for the recipe.
    Odelle Smith.

    • frugalfeeding
      March 26, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      I hope you do, Odelle – I certainly did and I ate my way through almost all of it myself 🙂

  2. Michèle
    March 17, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    I love your recipes. I have no ability with them, unfortunately. My powers of conversion are nil (converting from the superior format of metric into standard equivalents). Your recipes are still inviting, even without a way to sample them. I crave English tea, and all of the complementary, even if frugal, delicacies.

    • frugalfeeding
      April 9, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Thank you! That’s a shame, but there are plenty of conversion tools on the internet!

  3. Marlene Cornelis
    March 17, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    There is such general antipathy toward fruitcake here, but I think perhaps knowing this one is made with stout might make some people more openminded about trying it. Alas, I don’t think any of my offspring would fall into that category. But, nothing says I can’t make this just for myself! Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

    • frugalfeeding
      March 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      That’s a shame – fruitcake is exceptional and one of my favourites. It always has been too.

  4. Kirsten
    March 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Ohhh, where did you find the luxury fruit mix?? I know I could mix my own but I am always on the look out for dried fruit mixes that don’t contain the dreaded and detested candied peel . . . !!

    • frugalfeeding
      March 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      I buy it from Aldi – very reasonable it is too!

      • Kirsten
        March 30, 2015 at 1:47 pm

        Really???!! I shall have to have a look for it next time I am in one. I am surrounded by Lidls but Aldis are few and far between.

  5. Conor Bofin
    March 18, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    A cake I would be proud to have made, if I had made it that is.

  6. Iain
    March 19, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    That’s a fabulous cake, I’ll have to give your recipe a try. Nice photos too.

    • frugalfeeding
      March 26, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      Thank you – it’s very delicious. Shame I’ve run out.

  7. Chica Andaluza
    March 20, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Great reminder that delicious fruit cakes like this are not just for Christmas – looks wonderful!

    • frugalfeeding
      March 26, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      Absolutely – I can’t get enough of fruit cake, personally.

  8. Ejona V.
    May 8, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Can we replace the stout with milk, or anything else? What would you suggest?

    • frugalfeeding
      May 10, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      I don’t see why not, but you’d definitely lose some of the flavour. I’d suggest using stout ;).

  9. Azu
    May 8, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    This cake looks amazing! I have a craft brewery and we make a Porter, so I making this cake soon. Thanks for sharing!

    • frugalfeeding
      May 10, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      Oh fantastic! Porter cake made with your own porter; it doesn’t get any better than that!!

  10. Rachel @LittleChefBigAppetite
    May 8, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Yum! This looks so delightful!

    • frugalfeeding
      May 10, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      Thank you – it was a truly delicious fruit cake.

  11. Luciana
    March 18, 2016 at 12:52 am

    I made this cake today and it turned out wonderfully!
    I’d like to ask how you would go about storing it for the week to let it mature.
    How do I wrap it and at what temperature is it stored?
    I’m in the US and this is the first fruit cake I’ve made. I used currants, dried cranberries and dried sweet cherries,
    and Guinness, of course

  12. Marlimoo
    August 26, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Hi Nick, Looking forward to making this cake but the temperature of 180C for 1 1/2 – 2hrs seems a bit high or the baking time too long. Is it correct?

    • Sarah Sawyer
      March 4, 2018 at 8:28 am

      Mine was ready in 1h15… Maybe it depends on your oven?

  13. Sarah Sawyer
    March 4, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Delicious fruitcake! It reminds me of the one my grandma used to make. Even my Provencal husband liked it, and he’s usually not very receptive to anglo-saxon recipes.

  14. elfhaven13
    January 15, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    Hello Nick, was looking for an Irish dessert and found you both! So happy. Looking forward to trying your recipes.

  15. Penny Harrison
    March 10, 2019 at 2:27 am

    Thank you so very much for the suggestions of conversion charts on the internet and Aldi – I’m in California! We have an Adli a few miles away and I can get Guinness (though it will be an import) at the local “Bev’mo”! Am making it for an Irish potluck at our friends house on Tuesday!

If you like my recipes, photos or food please leave a comment here...